Once in a Blue Moon 2 January, 2010

Continuing the lunar theme from last month, New Year’s eve saw a Blue Moon. Technically, this only means the second full moon in one month, which is fairly rare. But, much rarer yet, THIS full moon according to many observers was actually blue in colour, partly because of the atmospheric conditions under which many people observed it (looking up from the Oxford oratory at midnight it was surrounded by a double halo or aureole), and also because it was also a partial lunar eclipse, in which the moon grazes the earth’s shadow. This was the “rarest of all eclipses”, a lunar eclipse of a Blue moon on New year’s Eve – even rarer, it took place on the eve of a new decade. A fitting end to the International Year of Astronomy!

Portents in the skies, and on the earth

It does sometimes feel as though the end of the world we know is at hand. Recent crises and natural disasters seem to add up to a picture of a civilization teetering on the brink of chaos. Faith also tells us that, just as much as ecological imbalance, moral imbalance is unsustainable. The death of millions of innocents and the abject poverty of millions more cries to heaven for vengeance. The attraction of apocalyptic movies is that they enable us to express and indulge our fears – fears of the end of history, fears of full-force nature, fears of our own technology – from within the safety of a movie theatre. The recent disaster movie, 2012, is based on an ancient Mayan prophecy that many believe may be soon to come true. And when I say “many” I mean many, as a glance at the airport bookstall or the bestseller lists will reveal. Hundreds of books and millions of web pages can’t be wrong – or can they? For the full article, go here.